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Proteomics Analysis of Psychotria Leaf Nodule Symbiosis: Improved Genome Annotation and Metabolic Predictions

November 2013 , Volume 26 , Number  11
Pages  1,325 - 1,333

Aurelien L. Carlier,1 Ulrich Omasits,2 Christian H. Ahrens,2 and Leo Eberl1

1Institute of Plant Biology and 2Institute of Molecular Life Sciences, University of Zurich, CH-8008 Zürich


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Accepted 15 July 2013.

Several plant species of the genus Psychotria (Rubiaceae) harbor Burkholderia sp. bacteria within specialized leaf nodules. The bacteria are transmitted vertically between plant generations and have not yet been cultured outside of their host. This symbiosis is considered to be obligatory because plants devoid of symbionts fail to develop into mature individuals. The genome of ‘Candidatus Burkholderia kirkii’ has been sequenced recently and has revealed evidence of reductive genome evolution, as shown by the proliferation of insertion sequences and the presence of numerous pseudogenes. We employed shotgun proteomics to investigate the expression of ‘Ca. B. kirkii’ proteins in the leaf nodule. Drawing from this dataset and refined comparative genomics analyses, we designed a new pseudogene prediction algorithm and improved the genome annotation. We also found conclusive evidence that nodule bacteria allocate vast resources to synthesis of secondary metabolites, possibly of the C7N aminocyclitol family. Expression of a putative 2-epi-5-valiolone synthase, a key enzyme of the C7N aminocyclitol synthesis, is high in the nodule population but downregulated in bacteria residing in the shoot apex, suggesting that production of secondary metabolites is particularly important in the leaf nodule.



© 2013 The American Phytopathological Society